How Does Divorce Impact Adoption?

Adopting a child can create a family or add to an existing family. If you were married when you adopted a child, you undoubtedly did so under the belief that you and your spouse would raise your adopted child together as a family. If you later decide to divorce, you may be concerned about how your divorce will impact the adoption.  A Murfreesboro adoption attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby explains what happens if you adopt a child and later divorce.

What Are Your Rights and Responsibilities as an Adoptive Parent?

Adopting a child means that you agree, under oath, to care for that child emotionally and financially until the child reaches the age of majority or is emancipated. Once the adoption is final you will take on all the legal rights and responsibilities of a biological parent. Your child’s name will change, and he/she will also enjoy all the rights and privileges of being your child.

What Happens If You Divorce after Adopting a Child?

If you and your spouse decide to get divorced after adopting a child, your adopted child will be treated as a child of the marriage just as your biological child would be in the same circumstances. That means that you and your spouse will need to negotiate the terms of a Parenting Plan and submit that to the court. Within the Parenting Plan you will need to decide which parent will be the Primary Residential Parent (PRP) meaning the parent with whom the child lives most of the time. The Alternative Residential Parent (ARP) will then typically be allocated “parenting time” with the child as part of the Parenting Plan. You may also need to decide things such as which parent will have decision making authority, which parent will pay for medical insurance for the child, and how disputes will be resolved post-divorce.

In addition, child support will probably need to be determined during your divorce because both parents are legally obligated to continue supporting the child post-divorce. The Tennessee Child Support Guidelines will be used to determine how much child support you will pay or receive. 

What Happens If You Divorce before the Adoption Process Is Complete?

What happens if you are in the process of adopting a child and you decide to divorce? Understandably, you might be worried about the impact your impending divorce will have on the pending adoption. Whether your divorce impacts the adoption of a child will depend on the circumstances of your adoption. 

A child’s natural parents must have their rights legally terminated before a child can be adopted. Termination of parental rights can be accomplished more than one way though. For example, if the child’s birth mother and/or father are required to consent to the adoption (which terminates their parental rights), they might be hesitant to give that consent once the impending divorce is disclosed. 

On the other hand, if the child’s parents have already had their rights terminated by the state, they no longer have any rights to the child. Consequently, they can no longer object to the adoption going forward. 

Ultimately, however, a judge must approve the adoption of any child. That approval will be based on what is in the best interest of the child. Although there is no requirement that adoptive parents be married in Tennessee, a judge might consider your impending divorce when deciding if adopting a child right now is in the best interest of the child.

One thing you do not want to do is conceal your plans to divorce from the child’s biological parents nor the court. Intentionally misrepresenting your marital status to the natural parents could cause them to rescind their consent while withholding such information from the court could cause the court to invalidate the adoption down the road.

Contact a Murfreesboro Adoption Attorney

If you have additional questions about divorce and adoption in Tennessee, it is important that you consult with an experienced Murfreesboro adoption attorney to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.

Dinah Michael